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Not Alone Reader’s Guide

By Sarah K. Jackson

Not Alone by Sarah K. Jackson


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What were your feelings about climate change and conservation before reading Not Alone? Did reading the novel change your views? If so, how? How likely do you think it is that a catastrophic event like the storm will occur during your lifetime?

2. At the beginning of the novel, Katie and Harry live an isolated life in their flat, structured around Katie’s foraging and trapping. What do you think you could survive on in your neighborhood if you were in a similar situation? What surprised you about their diet and practices?

3. Where did you think their adventure would take them when Katie and Harry discovered Jack’s letter? Were you hoping that Katie and Jack might be reunited from the beginning? Did your perception of Jack change over the course of the novel?

4. Stories and storytelling are key components of Katie and Harry’s communication throughout the novel. Did the stories Katie reads and invents for Harry resonate with you? What stories might you tell a child like Harry, if you were in Katie’s position?

5. Throughout the forward-moving plot, Katie flashes back to her life before the storm. How did these glimpses of Katie’s life change your opinion of her? What did her memories reveal about her character that you might not have otherwise realized?

6. Katie struggles to trust Andy and Sue during her stay with them, but then wonders as she and Harry’s journey takes them further away, if she made a mistake by pressing on in hopes of finding Jack—would you have stayed with Andy and Sue or continued North? Do you think Katie made the right choice? Did Katie encounter anyone that you think she could have trusted?

7. Animals play a large role in Harry’s world of imagination, and on their journey Katie and Harry encounter animals in the wild in ways they wouldn’t have expected. Which animal encounters stuck with you? How did the ways animal life—and plant life, for that matter—adapted to the world After surprise you?

8. Katie finds herself relying on unexpected skills throughout the novel—which of your hobbies, like Katie’s self-defense training, might prove useful in a post-apocalyptic setting?

9. All Katie wants is to be able to leave Harry with someone who will love him like she does. Discuss parenthood and unconditional love. What does it mean to love a child as your own? What does it mean to do what’s best for your child? How does Katie’s approach to parenting shift when she starts thinking about what Harry’s life will be like as an adult? How would you explain our world Before to a child growing up After, if you were in Katie’s position?

10. What changed in Katie’s outlook through the novel? Did anything in the novel make you reflect on your own life? In what ways do you think fiction can provide metaphors for real life?

11. Are you a fan of dystopian or post-apocalyptic stories? What other novels, movies, or TV series would you compare to Not Alone? How does the future that Sarah K. Jackson describes in this book differ from those versions?

12. If Not Alone were made into a film or television series, who do you think should be cast in the lead roles?

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